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The Daily Tar Heel

Authors AppreciatePublisher's Efforts In Achieving Success

It takes all kinds - fiction, nonfiction, cookbooks . and Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill publishes it all.

Many of the publisher's authors have a regional connection, and some are UNC alumni.

Novelist Robert Morgan is one such alumnus. He has taught English at Cornell University for three decades; his most recent book, "Gap Creek," was selected by Oprah Winfrey to sport her book club's seal. The news took Morgan aback.

"It was a complete surprise to me," he said. "I had no idea it was even being considered for it. I got a phone call one snowy afternoon in upstate New York - and it was Oprah herself."

The designation as Oprah's Book Club's pick of the month for January 2000 caused sales of Morgan's books to skyrocket. Algonquin's hardcover edition has sold more than half a million copies.

"I think the greatest thing about the Oprah club is the gift of all those new readers," Morgan said. While "Gap Creek" proved profitable, Morgan said he thinks financial concerns aren't necessarily what motivates Algonquin. His first book with the publisher, "The Hinterlands," wasn't hugely successful, he said. "They probably lost money on it. But they publish what they think is good. They're willing to take risks. Because it's a small company . they have the freedom of publishing a book that they like," Morgan said.

Daniel Wallace's first novel, "Big Fish," enjoyed an unexpected kind of success: It's being made into a major motion picture. Steven Spielberg is set to direct the film, with a screenplay by John August, the writer of "Go."

The editing process for "Big Fish" was fast, Wallace said - the book was on the shelves about nine months after Algonquin accepted the manuscript.

"That's a short period of time; usually it's about a year," Wallace said.

Algonquin staffer Kathy

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